I was watching the Israeli news the other night (who can sleep in such times?) when a notice appeared on the screen: Hamas launched rockets into Tel Aviv, and sirens were blaring everywhere. It was around 1 am in Israel. The reporter, running for cover, entered a local pub and joined a few young Israelis for safety. While there, she asked one of them why he wasn’t home. “I will take any precautionary measure,” he said, “but will not allow Hamas to change my life.”
“How about going to sleep, at least, and getting some rest?” the reporter asked. “Who can sleep at such times,” the young man replied, “when there is so much to do. I, and my friends, have teamed up to work on renovating shelters all over Israel. This is something we don’t just do during war times, but now it is very much needed.”
Meanwhile, in the nearby city of Ramat-Gan, a couple who owns a clothing store lamented the destruction of their family business, which had been just renovated. “It will take time to get back to business,” they said, “but return to business we shall. The store will go back to normal because nothing will break us. Am Yisrael Chai.”
A pediatrician, whose clinic was also met with Hamas missiles, told the local news that the only things left standing were the small drawings the children made, hanging on the wall. “We are just thankful this happened on Saturday, when no one was here,” she said, “and we will get back to work as quickly as possible.”
Israelis’ determination in times of war is augmented by a profound sense of solidarity. A flower shop owner was touched to see lines of Israelis who came to her bombarded little shop to buy flowers for Shavuot. “My grandson posted on Facebook and invited Israelis to buy flowers from the ruined shop, and people started coming from all over Israel. We started tearing up. We simply could not believe our eyes. I want to thank Am Yisrael for their support, sympathy and love.”
Israelis’ determination in times of war is augmented by a profound sense of solidarity.
Israel is going through some horrible and dangerous days. Millions of Israelis are tuned to the sirens alerting them to the dangers of rockets from Gaza. Hamas terrorists have fired, so far, nearly 3,000 rockets indiscriminately into civilian centers in Israel, with the sole purpose of killing, injuring, and maiming as many people as possible. One can only imagine the extent of damage and casualties had Israelis been exposed and unprotected.
Attacks against Israel have evolved over time. After large-scale wars came the era of suicide bombers aimed at innocent coffee drinkers, shoppers and passengers on buses. When all those failed, the Boycott, Divestment movement did its best to bring the Jewish state to its knees. But Israel’s immense energy of creativity, ingenuity, and contributions to the world was too vital. Thus, they failed again, despite ongoing efforts to this very day.
Now came the age of tunnels, rockets and missiles. The first rocket launched by Hamas was in April 2001, over 20 years ago. For more than two decades, and through several military operations by Israel, Hamas has fired more than 20,000 rockets into Israel.
Thank G-d for Iron Dome.
The development of Iron Dome, Israel’s mobile all-weather air defense system, began in 2006. It was initiated by then Israeli Minister of Defense Amir Peretz — who did so against the dissenting view of Israel’s Defense Establishment. Peretz lives in the southern town of Sderot, which suffered immensely over the years from Hamas’ rocket terror. Israelis owe him a tremendous debt of gratitude. The United States, under then-President Barack Obama, joined the effort and provided funding for continuous development and improvement of the Iron Dome.
In addition to the ingenuity of the Iron Dome, the human factor has been key to Israel’s resiliency and survival. Hassan Nasrallah, the infamous leader of the Lebanese Shiite terrorist organization Hezbollah — another Iranian proxy — once famously characterized Israeli society as “weaker than a spiderweb.” Based on that assumption, he went to war with Israel in 2006 and learned a hard lesson. Israelis’ resolve is immeasurable. He hasn’t attacked Israel since.
In addition to the ingenuity of the Iron Dome, the human factor has been key to Israel’s resiliency and survival.
The Iron Dome is a blessing, and many Israelis owe it their lives. But Israel’s real power source — her “secret weapon” — is its people. It is their ingenuity, creativity and determination to win against all odds, regardless of the condemnations it receives from a hypocritical world that often holds it to an unfair double standard.
This human factor is the ultimate deterrence against enemies. It is what makes dreams come true and what made Israel what it is today: a beacon of light, hope and progress, not just for Israelis but for the world — even a world that has yet to appreciate it.
Shahar Azani is a former Israeli diplomat and Senior Vice President at JBS.